So we drove back from our little anniversary trip yesterday morning. In an attempt to beat traffic we left at 4:30 AM, which left me with 5.5 hours of sleep for the umpteenth night in a row. Last week was just as busy and I didn’t get enough sleep, which ended with me on antibiotics for a sinus infection. (Thanks, Mama Shallal for forcing the issue of going to the Doctor to get antibiotics. Sometimes you just need your mama to tell you not to be an idiot ya know? ) The end of this story is last night I slept for 11.5 hours, reluctantly waking up at 8:30am. I can not remember the last time I slept that long. Now I’m enjoying my breakfast of 2 eggs, lunch meat, and roasted broccoli for breakfast and typing this post. (And listening to Train radio on Pandora because nothing gets me back into the work groove faster.)
Week 43: LISS/ Steady-State Cardio
This week we are answering the oldest question in the book. What is the best type of exercise? What should you be focusing on? Well, it’s a two-part series because the spoiler alert is, there is NO BEST type of training (other than the one you enjoy.) A well-rounded program has a variety of intensity levels and training styles in it. One form that needs to be included is LISS training. LISS or Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio is easy fat burning cardio. It’s any cardio activity done at a slow cruising pace you feel like you could maintain for hours if you had too.
Examples of this type of exercise could be:
- Brisk Walking
- Light jogging
- Bike riding without resistance
- Elliptical without resistance
- Steady stair climbing at an easy pace
- light swimming
- anything other cardiovascular activity that feels like a 3-4 level of effort (on a scale of 1-10)
Benefits of LISS cardio include:
- Building your base pace (how fast you can comfortably go for long periods of time
- Translation: You will end up being able to do more work in the same amount of time, meaning you can burn more calories and you become more fit. For example, if you used to be able only to sustain 4.0 running on the treadmill for 10 minutes, now you can do 5.0 comfortably for 10 minutes. More fit = more calories with less output
- Improving your cardiovascular health without overstressing the body
- Enhancing your bodies ability to utilize fat as the fuel source during workouts.
- your body has two sources of fuel, carbohydrates are quick, but fat is longer lasting, you have to teach your body to use fat more efficiently
- Faster recovery since the workout isn’t as demanding on the body.
- Easier to stick with.
- This type of cardio doesn’t burn calories super fast, but you do it longer, so calorie burn is good.
- Improved insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism ( body deals with sugar better and burns fat better)
Downsides of LISS/Steady-State Cardio:
- It won’t help you build muscle, power, or adaptations.
- Prolonged stress – but didn’t I say less stress earlier? Yes, but, when you get to higher levels (think marathon training), your base pace becomes higher, so you are doing more work for more extended periods of time causing prolonged stress on the body.
- Overuse injuries- repeated stress on the body day in and day out.
Take Aways LISS Cardio
Back in the day before I knew what I was doing, I rotated between the treadmill and elliptical, sometimes the bike. I ONLY did steady state cardio; I didn’t know anything about HIIT training or weight lifting. That, combined with the way too low-calorie intake I lost weight and thought I was healthier, but I was really just a smaller version of me with jacked up hormones and less muscle mass. Yes, I was smaller, but I couldn’t understand why I didn’t magically look toned and fit? However, I did develop amazing (to me) cardiovascular capabilities. (LISS cardio is well researched for its cardiovascular benefits.)
Over the weekend, Mr. Hungry and I hiked about 12-15 miles around Del Mar – La Jolla beach area. I didn’t feel super sore the next day or feel like I needed any extra recovery. I could get right back to working out, I didn’t know because of the lack of sleep and travel, but I could have. Whereas there are other days I do 20-minute high-intensity workouts that leave me sore for DAYS.
Personally, I include 1-2 days of steady state exercise per week and that is the sweet spot. Sometimes I count a long low-intensity walk with the pup and sometimes it’s a long slow training run, especially when training for races like I am now.
What about you? Do you do steady-state exercise? What’s your favorite form?